BMW April 2022

No sooner had Russia made a move on the Ukraine when the F1 body of the FIA cancelled the Russian Socchi Grand Prix in September. The organiser of the Grand Prix says he is going ahead with the arrangement anyway, whilst the Russian GP driver, Mazepin is still in the running for Formula 1 points except for the ‘British GP’.

We need an American Team in F1 racing. Sounds like Mario Andretti’s grandson wants to bring an American team to Formula 1 at a cost of something like R1 billion – but Mercedes-Benz – who seem to run the show these days in F1 racing, reckon they are not keen on this. We thought that they would like to have more competition and perhaps more entries in this very expensive sport.

Mercedes-Benz is still going on about how they lost the eighth F1 title for Lewis Hamilton who was leading in the last lap of the race in Abu Dhabi, only to get passed by Verstappen, who went on to win by two and a half seconds. I reckon if Mercedes-Benz had that championship reversed in their favour there will not be one Dutchman in Holland who would never buy a Mercedes product again!

I think they made a mess with their tyre changes and Hamilton wasn’t able to challenge for that last lap – and the Championship – last season.

Good to see that mainly Kaapeners have done extraordinary work on the FIA commissions. Dr Greg Mills, the President of the WP Motor Club and an active endurance race competitor, with the likes of Sarel and Tony Martin, have been appointed to the International Historic Commission of the FIA. Greg is Chief of the Brenthurst Foundation and is a guest lecturer at Nato’s Defence College, plus he is also an international advisor. He is also a Director of Motorsport South Africa.

After serving as Chairman of Motorsport South Africa, Anton Roux has been made a member of the FIA Senate (that’s overseas Organisations, Management and Finances).

Our racing advocate, Andre Bezuidenhout, is also a long-term member of the Western Province Motor Club at Killarney and an active competitor has just completed his four year term as a member of the FIA International Court of Appeal.  He will be eligible for election in two years’ time.

Andre has practised at the bar for 29 years in South Africa and has been an acting judge in the High Court. He has been President of the National Motorsport Appeals Court since 1996 and is an international expert in motor racing law.

He owns the farm Weltevreden from where Piet Retief took off on the Great Trek and has a museum within his collection of 11 racing Porches. To his great delight he has signed helmets belonging to Schumacher and Senna. Incidentally, one of the four guitars once owned by Jimi Hendriks features in his man cave.

Toyota is rocketing away in vehicle sales in 2022 so far. They had a record January and have done it again in February with nearly 14 000 cars and commercials sold into the marketplace. Plus of course their Hino Trucks and Lexus cars. One thing about Toyota, they stay humble throughout the work they put in with their dealers whom they always thank for their support and customer service.

Another record breaker: third in the marketplace amongst passenger cars is Suzuki. They were third in the Top Sellers List in January and repeated that feat again in February with over 3 200 units sold. 

Suzuki Auto South Africa also pointed out a substantial number of the vehicles retailed by Toyota in January and February are made in a Suzuki factory and badged as Toyotas. Try Urban Cruiser: 1 454 units sold in January, Starlet: 1 472 and Rumion: 368.

Very pleased with their vehicle sales are Mahindra who have been in South Africa for 18 years. In January they broke through the 1 000 units sold in a month barrier through their 72 dealers countrywide.

Korean Hyundai and KIA have been in South Africa from way back in the 90’s. In a dependability study in the USA KIA came out tops followed by Buick, Hyundai and Genesis (Hyundai’s Premium Luxury brand).

Toyota has again been credited as the most searched for brand on the Web. Their success story never seems to slow down at all.

The World Rally Championship, unfortunately not shown on the Motorsport Channel, was won by Rovanpera, the Finn, (Toyota Gazoo Yaris) just 20 seconds ahead of Thiery Neuville, the Belgian, in his Hyundai i20N and another Yaris third. That was after four days of tough racing in the snow at –16 deg C!  Right now, there’s a mammoth bunfight going on between Toyota, Hyundai and Ford to find out who actually won the Monte Carlo Rally.

History was made in the recent 9-Hour race at Kyalami when our two black champions Thjops Sepuka Philip Kekana and Xolife Letlaka claimed a podium position in their class at the race coming home in 9th position overall.  It just goes to show that after 20 plus years of not racing, we still have champions like these two. Well done to all three of them, I say!

Motorcycle news from Japan is that Honda have just reached 400 million motorcycle sales. That has all happened since they opened their doors for business in 1948.

Some manufacturers claim that they are the biggest selling vehicles in history i.e. the Model T Ford and the VW Beetle … try 200 million Honda C50 step-through scooters. Honda, right now, are still the biggest motorcycle manufacturers in the world, manufacturing 18 million per annum. That works out – and I have actually seen the production lines in action in Japan – reach eight motorcycles per minute!

Three years ago Honda’s power product production reached 150 million units. We were the first country to really get them on the map against the might of American and European engines with Honda’s very own power products way back in the late 60’s.

Porsche, meanwhile, celebrated its 50th Anniversary of its Design Centre in action since 1972. To celebrate this a Porsche 911 edition 50Y Porsche was designed plus the historical 911 S 2.4 Targa (open top) has been safely restored by Porsche Classic.

Congratulations to Africa’s only Formula 1 journalist.  It is the South African Dieter Rencken, our only full time Formula One motoring journalist who was selected for this award by a panel including representatives from the Guild of Journalists and the Awards Sponsor. He received this award at the RAC in Pall Mall but he wasn’t’ there because he was in Saudi Arabia covering the second-to-last F1 race last season.

Audi handed out their Dealer Awards last month. Audi Centre Arcadia was awarded 2021 Audi Dealer of the Year and the Hatfield Group awarded the 2021 Auto Dealer Group of the Year.  So, if you want an Audi, Pretoria is the place to go, it seems.

At the State of the Motor Industry meeting hosted by Toyota, Leon Theron, their sales director, announced  the Toyota Gazoo Yaris Cup Challenge to be contested by six local motoring journalists – Jeanette Kok-Kritzinger, Mark Jones, Thomas Falkiner, Lerato Matebese, Sean Nurse and Ashley Oldfield. They will be racing at all the Extreme Motor Races and it is good to see Toyota putting so much back into motorsport around the country.  It was also announced that Toyota has a new Gazoo racing Junior Academy for karting that’s going to be hosted by Leeroy Poulter at the Zwartkops Raceway.

It is a good time to buy a pre-owned motor vehicle (secondhand car) if you can find the stock right now. Not only are manufacturers short of new stock due to a shortage of components, but the pre-owned vehicles are being snapped up at a great rate.

A World Car Person of the Year has been announced: it is Luc Donckerwolka, Hyundai Motor Company’s Executive Vice President for Design and Chief Creative Officer. World Car Award jury members come from 33 countries and total 102 journalists in all. Again, well done Hyundai!

Mazda, which became famous for their rotary petrol engine designed so many years ago has now registered patents for a supercharged two-stroke compression ignition engine. Will these creative ideas that the company is known for ever stop? Well done. It could revolutionise small, light, powerful cars or maybe motorcycle engine units.

Listen to Roger McCleery to hear more inside stories every Tuesday afternoon on his motoring programme Radio Today (1485 AM) or on DSTV Audio Channel 869; on social media and podcast broadcast around the world.

By Roger McCleery